Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The holler of “Happy New Year” is all over the place as the world is sending off the worst of years, that is, 2020, with all its baggage of Covid-19, EndSars and whatnot.
The gilded invitation on my table came with all the hip and hop of the new age, and the card bears a message that happens to be too new-fangled for my old head: a “sendforth” party.
I belong to the old school, more at home with the good old sendoff party.
“Sendforth?” That must definitely be a new word in the lexicon, I told myself.
There was hardly time to make the needed proper check of the dictionaries or the books on etiquette for what the brand new “sendforth” party entailed as opposed to the ancient sendoff type.
The event was slated for a restaurant a handful of streets away from my digs, and I willed myself to be there in good time so as not to miss out on yet another new invention of the modern day, this phenomenon called “sendforth party.”
Off I went, trekking.
But first, before I could say “sendforth”, some new sightings overwhelmed my consciousness: the many diverse spellings of “Restaurant” across the streets.
Over there, the word is spelt as “Resturant”, and I ask: Who ate the “a” in the middle of the word? Or has it been “sentforth”?
Just across the other street stands a red sign-post that announces “Nwankwo Restorant”, and I muse that the “o” in the middle must be the “hole in the zero of nothing” found in Wole Soyinka’s play Madmen and Specialists.
Further down, in an intersection dominated by a packed-up truck, a seedy and run-down bungalow bears the legend: “Ola Mummy Restuarant”.
The reversal of “ua” in the middle of the word is so harsh that my computer tries to correct it as I write now!
Well, what’s my bile really? Whatever the spelling, so long as one can find food to eat in there, especially as the spelling of “Restaurant” does not need a NAFDAC number…
Whatever the spelling, man must get to that “restorant”, sorry, restaurant that is meant to restore food in my aching stomach in the spirit of the “sendforth” wonder.
Finally, I make it to the restaurant venue of the so-called “sendforth” party of my desire in this new dawn of palliatives.
For much of the couple of hours I spend there, one can’t find much difference between the sendoff party of my knowledge and this new contrivance nicknamed “sendforth” party.
An acquaintance, Mr. Mikolo Santos of Akokwa, to give him his full due, had just been transferred from one wonder bank to another magic bank, and his colleague bankers were having a ball for him.
Sendoff or “sendforth”, maybe the dictionaries can help out.
Let’s fetch the fattest dictionary on my burnt table: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.
Here are my discoveries in the fat dictionary bought for me by the legendary South African poet, Dennis Brutus, in Pittsburgh, USA.
There is no “sendforth”, even with a hyphen in the middle. “Send forth” appears as two separated words in the general entry for “send”, explained thusly:
- to produce; dear; yield
- to dispatch out of a country as an export
- to issue, as a publication.
On the other hand, “sendoff” is an independent entry on its own, and it is defined thus:
- a demonstration of good wishes for a person setting out on a trip, career or other venture.
- a start given to a person or thing.
To get the argument down to the level of learners of English as a second language, such as I am with my poor fat head, it is proper to consult the ever reliable Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary.
Again, “sendoff” is a completely independent entry defined as “an occasion when people come together to say goodbye to somebody who is leaving.”
In the main “send” entry, there is the phrase “send somebody forth” that is explained this way: “(old-fashioned or literary) to send somebody away from you to another place”.
To that extent, “sendforth” even as a colloquial collocation comes from an old-fashioned phrase that is not chic for this age.
To end the matter, I have to go yet again to the dictionary to borrow the entry “sending-off” defined as “(in football) a situation when a REFEREE tells a player to leave the field because they have broken the rules in a serious way.”
In this match-up of “sendforth” and “sendoff”, I happen to be the referee.
I hereby dip my hand inside my pocket, and out comes my red card for the immediate sending off of “sendforth”!
To cap it all up, my good old, if ancient, computer, not the new-fangled pretenders, allows “sendoff” to pass as a single word while “sendforth” bags a straight red underneath it.
Great minds think alike: the vintage computer and this poor old poet!